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There are some similar questions to this, however this has a very specific reasoning.

Should you include a names in emails?

The reason I ask this is because I have been reviewing my MailChimp lists and have come to realise there is a high proportion of users who don't use real names or anything of the sort. Therefore is including names detrimental to these users experience?

For example

Ideally it would be Hi Bob Jones

For some it might be a user name Hi bob.jones.51

For others it will be Hi moon

Is using "Hi Moon" actually bad, will it make users think "oh this is spam" or will the majority of users remember this is what they entered. If only there was a way to get proper information! :)

Note: This "emails" means things like newsletters, system notifications etc. And yes Moon is one of my users, their email suggests a different name.

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Personal opinion: If I get an e-mail without a salutation I don't think any less of it. If I get a "Hello Evil", or a "Hello Mr. Monkey", it registers but the warm fuzzy does not sway my dealings with the sender. If I get a "Hello evil.closet.monkey.51" I am almost immediately dismissive and it doesn't go away - if the jerks who sent me this e-mail can't get my name right, what else are they going to get wrong? I still might deal with them, but the sender is already fighting the uphill battle. –  Evil Closet Monkey Feb 13 at 19:38
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5 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

From 8 effective email marketing strategies, backed by science:

The practice of personalized email greetings is not nearly as effective as it may seem. In fact, research by Temple’s Fox School of Business suggests that this particular kind of personalization could be harmful:

Given the high level of cyber security concerns about phishing, identity theft, and credit card fraud, many consumers would be wary of emails, particularly those with personal greetings.

A significant element of email marketing is relationship. Does a recipient trust you? Does a recipient even know who you are? When an email jumps the gun by forcing familiarity too soon, the personalization comes across as skeevy. Intimacy is earned in real life, and it would appear to be the same way with email.

...

Sending email that acknowledges a subscriber’s individuality (e.g., purchase history or demographic).

(The study) also found that product personalization, in which customers are directed to products that their past purchasing patterns suggest they will like, triggered positive responses in 98 percent of customers.

The takeaway here is that if you are to use personalization as an email strategy, do so in a meaningful way. It takes little knowledge or relationship to place someone’s name in your greeting. It shows far greater care to send personalized email that is specific to a recipient’s needs and history.

Not much more I can add to that.

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  1. Adding a name doesn't necessarily endear users. It can be used very effectively to draw users in. Yet with emails, maybe you would be better off getting to the point quicker since the attention span for emails is so finite.
  2. You may want to change your salutation approach. A simple, "Hi!" followed by a witty phrase, random fact, or just want you want to say could suffice.
  3. To answer your initial question, I don't think it's wrong; but if you feel you're getting awkward situations by addressing people in some avatar/computer-speak as bob.jones.51 or moon, then maybe you can find another place to insert some friendly, conversational language.
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If you truly want to greet people by their submitted firstname, but only if it's a "real" firstname, you might have to do a dictionary comparison and validate their entry when they submit it.

You would still accept whatever they enter - don't risk telling them their own name is invalid, that won't go well. Instead, if the validation fails, add a checkbox in your database or CRM for "this is a 'valid' firstname" and send correspondence to that subset with a email template that includes %firstname%. All others get a %nonSpecificSalutation%.

But really, unless I had a VERY good reason, I'd avoid the issue altogether.

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this is a really bad idea when you have users from allover the world. –  Adrian Feb 14 at 8:36
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See Personal names around the world from W3C Internationalization. –  Quentin Pradet Feb 14 at 10:30
    
And what about the people who use a name that is a real first name but not their own... –  jwenting Feb 14 at 13:37
    
@Adrian I agree to an extent, and I suppose I addressed the "how" and not the "should". I suppose the saving grace of my answer is that it fails well. If it's not 100% sure that it's valid, it won't embarrass itself. –  wastubbs Feb 14 at 21:18
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It's a tough one.

But let's say I'd like systems to address me by my preferred name. It might not fall into first name or middle or last name.

I think I would be like to be asked how I'd like to be greeted.

'Shall we greet you as "Bob"?' - "Hi Bob" [Yes] [No] Call me:_ (input field)

If it's No and a name wasn't privided, then update the greeting to just "Hi".

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I think it depends on the type of the email, if it is an appreciation email it is good to mention the name

Complaining email??!! It is a good idea to mention a name

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You've not said why it's good to do so. What is your reasoning behind your answer? –  JonW Feb 15 at 12:11
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